Am I Getting Better or Worse?
In the process of healing through, and from Borderline Personality Disorder, like any other personality disorder, or illness for that matter, there are times of moving ahead, and then there are the relapses that also occur. Often these relapses take us back to some aspect of a lesson that we haven't totally learned and implemented the ensuing change from.
I'm sure you've heard the expression, "three steps forward and one or two steps back." With each group of steps forward, no matter how many steps one slides back in some degree of relapse or re-cycling of issues each and every time this happens the determined person will come out ahead, more than three steps forward.
Healing is a process. It is not, by any means, a straight line. It takes time to integrate change, and new thought patterns and so forth. In healing from BPD I have found it definitely has to do with gradually, over time, working through the many layers of protection and mal-adaptive coping skills in order to make progress.
This may sound too simple but when you find yourself backsliding a bit it is then that it is important to be kind and fair with yourself. It is then that you most need to believe in yourself and all of the work that you are doing to heal and change and grow.
Recovery often requires that we re-visit and recycle older behaviour and negative cognitively-distorted thoughts from time to time. (Often we will be triggered back to these unfinished or unresolved feelings, in the here and now.) The key thing is to remember where you are, where you've been and where you are headed and to not let setbacks shake your overall confidence.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a formidable challenge. Healing it and changing such deeply ingrained patters of both thought and behaviour will take you however long it is that you, personally, need. The healing journey is a very highly personal one.
In those times of relapse or set back care about yourself enough to not hide from what you are experiencing. Talk to your therapist or a trusted friend/spouse about what you are experiencing. It can be invaluable to get someone else's perspective. Often what we may perceive as some terrible relapse is just a step or two back to strengthen what we already know about who it is that we are working to become, or who it is that we have become. Healing from BPD requires that we find, get and stay in touch with our authentic self.
If you find yourself tripped up by a step back, or a relapse give yourself permission to learn the lessons and ask yourself again, "Who do I really want to be?" It is in the answering and re-answering of this question that you will consolidate more and more of your healing and see yourself walking of firmer ground with more solid footsteps with every new step that you take.
It is not uncommon to take a few steps forward and then a couple of steps back. Give yourself permission to experience this without judgment, condemnation or devaluation.
Are you getting better or are you getting worse? You know the answer to that question. Keep in mind, that what doesn't kill us truly does make us stronger. You are getting stronger all the time just by remaining true to your healing process.
This cycle of recovery and relapse is the backbone of healing. In time you will come to find that move more steadily forward with fewer and fewer steps back or fewer relapsing steps. Trust yourself to stick to your process. Trust the process. Surrender control and keep working hard, always in and through your authentic truth.
© Ms. A.J. Mahari - June 8, 1999